10 tips for the virtual workplace

For us, new ways of working equals new ways of engaging with customers, so we’ve been exploring the potential in virtual meetings. We’re all working like this now– we must do business without all the features of meeting up with each other that helped us accomplish our work: it’s hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t, in our virtual conversations. Adjusting to the present, we have to get over our uncertainty about relying on technology for communication. We want to reach a functioning level of ease using the requirements for good, meaningful conversations with customers in virtual meeting rooms. That means reviewing what we used to take for granted and applying those aspects of communication to the way we meet each other now.

10 tips for effective use of virtual meetings:

  1. Make sure you are all known to each other by name, by responsibility, by department, whatever identifies you and the others to each other as people.
  2. Have something interesting to say: telling a good, relevant story is critical to revealing important personal information. Think about what excites and interests you about your work, your technologies and the potential in your services, and then tell a good story about one of those.
  3. Share and listen generously. Be open and willing to offer your enthusiasm. An important element in effective meetings is projecting a sense of relaxation about being together in virtual space. Think about the virtual room as having spaciousness in which you can offer (calorie free!) hospitality to those attending. Do this with humor, with positive comments, with a cheerful greeting and warm close-outs.
  4. Consciously use the medium to shape and reshape relationships. Invite people to offer their questions or differences of perspective. Give the people in your meeting time to tell you about themselves and their work. Put things into a bigger context. How will your technology/product/service help the greater community?
  5. Exercise some control of the meeting, if you are the host.
  6. When you are in video meeting rooms, use good non-verbal cues to enhance communication. Keep the camera at eye-level. Don’t yawn or slouch.
  7. When it is your turn to talk, make sure your background noise is minimal and that you speak clearly.
  8. Give active attention to the others ‘in the room.’  Nod your head and smile; look into the camera when others are speaking. Keep track of what people say, and the questions they ask.
  9. Remember that the chat feature allows for useful side-bar discussions, but if you are showing up on chat a great deal during a meeting, others in attendance may get the impression you are not paying attention to the group – use your chat comments wisely.
  10. Give others a way to speak and share by calling on people. In larger groups, use polling and ask questions which people can answer in the chat feature.

There are differences to communication through technology, but the social interaction tools we need for good conversations are the same today as they were before March 1st. Learn to be comfortable with the technological  features offered in the medium, and your conversations will become smoother and carry more content.


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